I had never watched the ESPY Awards before since I’m not much of a sports fan, but I figured I’d tune in last night to see Caitlyn Jenner accept the Arthur Ashe Award.
Throughout the entire speech, Caitlyn remained positive and proud. Her message was a simple, yet emotional one – that transgender people deserve respect. She highlighted several of her own personal struggles with her transition, but also spoke about the difficulties that all transgender people deal with throughout their lifetime.
Personally, I was moved by Caitlyn’s speech. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have felt like for Caitlyn to live so many years of her life as someone whom she did not identify herself as. Her strength and courage to begin her new life as Caitlyn 65 years later is undeniable, and certainly not something that should be overlooked. In my opinion, Caitlyn Jenner deserved the award in its entirety.
Knowing the controversy surrounding Caitlyn Jenner, I immediately logged on to social media to see what others had to say. While I was expecting there to be mixed reactions, I was not prepared for what I was about to see. I was appalled and disgusted by the things I read written by both strangers on the Internet and people I knew on a personal level. I hit the“unfollow” and “unfriend” button more times than I can count last night.
You may not have a personal connection with transgender people.
You may not have a personal connection with Olympic athletes.
And realistically, that’s expected. However, I’m willing to bet that you connected on a personal level with one (if not more) of the aspects of Caitlyn’s speech. Re-watch it. Think about it. Something must have hit home for you.
If anything, you should realize that Caitlyn’s speech wasn’t about her “winning an award”; it was about the way we all perceive anyone who is different from us. Hate, judgment, slurs, etc. have surrounded Caitlyn’s transition, yet as she stated, she can “take it.”
But she shouldn’t have to – no one should have to, and that’s the point.
Caitlyn wants to help others. She wants to share her journey with the world. She wants to let transgender children, teens, and adults know that it’s okay, and they’re not alone. They shouldn’t have to suppress who they are on the inside to please the world on the outside, which is something Caitlyn struggled with for so long, especially as a professional athlete.
Courage comes in many forms. If Caitlyn is courageous enough to accept her true self, then we should be able to accept her, too.
As an athlete.
As a woman.
As a hero.